Parliamentary System

Features

Parliamentary form of government had, by way of chance and not design, evolved in Britain. The major features of the parliamentary system as are usually known or described in the world, are, therefore, attributed to the British pattern of political system. It is important that we need to know or, infact, should know them:

  • A Parliamentary form of government, also known as the cabinet or West ministerial model, is supposed to be a government which is both responsible and responsive– responsible in the sense of accountable to what it does and responsive in the sense that it remains alive and responding to the will of the people;
  • The executive that administers the country is one which is elected by the people or by the elected representatives of the people: such a government is elective government; elective in the sense that it is directly and/or indirectly elected by the people and to them it is accountable and responsive. Such a government loses once if it loses confidence/support of those who elect it, even before the expiry of time for which it is elected;
  • The responsibility of the executive, also called the Council of Ministers or the Cabinet, is referred to as the real executive—the real executive as against the nominal executive as it is usually described, the king, the President, the Governor-General: such a system of polity has two executives : real and nominal; two heads: one as head of the government, another as head of the state; one who holds an of power and another, who holds an office of honour/respect;
  • The real executive, i.e. the body of ministers, exercises powers given or prescribed in the name of the nominal executive : the nominal executive governs but does not rule; the real executive rules but does not govern;
  • The real executive works under the supervision of a minister called as the Prime Minister, the Premier, the First Lord of His (Her) Majority’s Government as in England who along with the body of ministers is legally responsible to the executive head of the state, collectively and individually responsible to those who elect them, politically responsible to the Prime Minister;
  • As the real executive i.e., the Prime Minister together with his/her ministers are collectively and individually responsible to those who elect them have to be their own members, i.e., the real executive is taken from the legislature and is accountable to the legislature : this is what is called harmony between the executive and the legislature;
  • The concept of the collective and individual responsibility demands from the body of ministers to work as a team : this is what is called political homogeneity, i.e., belonging to one political party or a combination of political parties having similar opinions on public policies;
  • The concept of political homogeneity expects from the ministers to be a disciplined lot in so far as they remain secretive about the public policies. As the Indian polity has adopted, more or less, all the above features of parliamentary democracy, India may be described having adopted parliamentary system of governance.

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